The women's basketball team ended its season with a hard-fought but definitive loss to top-ranked Princeton. The Tigers (23-4, 13-0 Ivy) walked off the court Saturday with a perfect Ivy season and will head to the NCAA Tournament, while the Bears (16-12, 7-7 Ivy) finished with an even .500 conference record. The previous night, the Bears fell to Penn (13-14, 6-7 Ivy), whom they had edged out in overtime in their previous match-up. Despite the two losses to close out the year, the Bears finished the season with their best overall record since 2006.
Penn 72, Brown 66
Brown and Penn's battle in February ended with a 59-55 overtime victory for the Bears, and Friday night both teams were hungry for a win as they jostled for final positions in the Ivy standings. The game was a gritty back-and-forth contest in which 41 fouls were called, and the outcome came down to the final minute.
"I think because this game was so important to us for maintaining our ranking, the officials were very present," said Head Coach Jean Marie Burr. "They made it hard for our players to play their game, and they really interrupted the flow of the game."
With the Bears forced to play conservatively, the first half was Quaker-dominated — Penn held as large as an 11-point lead before Bruno cut it to six at halftime, 34-28, with a 9-4 closing run.
Out of the locker room, the Bears began steadily chipping away at the Quakers' lead. After eight minutes of hard work, a trey by guard Lindsay Nickel '13 finally evened the score at 46 apiece. Penn was able to retake its lead briefly, but the Bears continued to fight back. The last five minutes of the game followed the same trend — Penn built up a lead, only for Bruno to regain ground.
"It was definitely an atmosphere of adversity," Burr said. "We had to adapt and play more of a half-court game."
With one minute left, the Bears were once again striving to cut into a Quaker lead. Guard Sheila Dixon '13 stole the ball and took off on a fast break that ended with a lay-up to bring the Bears within two.
With time running out, the Bears fouled to stop the clock, but the Quakers were unfazed, shooting six for six from the foul line in the last twenty seconds. The foul shots put the Quakers on top for good, 72-66, and Penn avenged its February loss to Bruno.
Princeton 77, Brown 60
The following night, the Tigers jumped out to a strong start, playing an aggressive game in the first half that the Bears struggled to keep up with.
"We talked about how exciting it was to play this team who had already secured the (NCAA) bid for the league," Burr said. "We were inspired by it, but we got off to a slow start."
Princeton forward Niveen Rasheed led the offensive charge, scoring 14 of her 18 game points in the first half to give the Tigers a 46-27 advantage. Bruno also had strong numbers itself, shooting 55 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, but the Tigers capitalized on Brown's 14 turnovers throughout this period.
The Bears did not seem to be discouraged by the scoreboard coming out of the locker room, as they kept up the pressure and outscored the Tigers in the second half, 33-31. Bruno cut its deficit down to 11 after a lay-up from co-captain Hannah Passafuime '12 with 11 minutes remaining, the closest they came to the undefeated Tigers in the second half. Passafuime led Bruno on Senior Night with 13 points and six rebounds in her final game as a Bear.
Despite the pair of losses this weekend, the Bears finished in the top half of the Ivy League. The team will look to build off its best season in recent years, and Burr said the team's performance has her excited to come back to the court next season with 13 returning players.
"This season, we saw a lot of games decided within one, two, three points." Burr said. "It gives great experiences to our returners, and it's the type of season where everyone shows up, which bodes well for next year's season."